Up-and-Coming Female Rappers You Need to Listen To

Like most musical genres, rap is a male-dominated industry. Icons like Lil Kim and Missy Elliott have paved the way for female rappers to succeed by making significant contribution to the rap game, but it remains a competitive environment for women. In a time where Nicki Minaj and Cardi B are constantly pitted against each other under the guise that there can only be one prominent female rapper in the spotlight, here are three female rappers that deserve all the success, all at the same time.


1) Cupcakke

           The 20-year-old Chicago-born rapper, whose real name is Elizabeth Harris, is not afraid to get intimate about her sex life in her music, and that’s what makes her so important. While female rappers have long been embracing their sexuality in their lyrics, Cupcakke takes it to a whole new level, with song titles like “Vagina” and “Deepthroat” and lyrics that go beyond explicit. The bold and unapologetic sexual nature of her music extends to her social media presence, as she often captions her photos on Twitter* and Instagram** with hilarious and raunchy quips. The sex-positive artist is showing women everywhere that you can be funny and sexual and taken seriously.Her discography includes two mixtapes and three albums, most recently, 2018’s Ephorize, which features tracks that touch on issues like police brutality:

            “A lot of artists don’t want to say anything about what’s going on, because they’re scared they’ll lose fans or something,” she told i-D*** in December. “But the more awareness there is, the more justice. So I figure it’s my place to stand up.”


2) Saweetie​

            This California-native started posting raps on her Instagram just two years ago, but it was her freestyle over Khia’s “My Neck”—which ultimately became her breakout track “ICY GRL” in 2017—that got people’s attention. From there, she released her EP High Maintenance a year later, and her success has only just begun. Like many women trying to make it in the industry, Saweetie, born Diamonté Harper, is often reduced to just “a pretty girl with followers that’s [just] rapping”**** but, she notes that her “work speaks for itself”**** proving that pretty girls can drop bars too.

            Saweetie has expressed that she’s tired of the notion that female rappers need to compete with each other. While she may be “super competitive” about most things, “when it comes to music, I feel like [my] only competition is me,” she told Complex.**** “I’m the only person who stands in my way…I see myself as my own competitor.”


Instead of feeling threatened by other female rappers, she supports the women in her field:

           “It’s dope to just see all these different types of women doing their thing, sharing their story, and putting out great music”*****



3) Rico Nasty

While Rico Nasty may be the most prominent one, Maria Kelly has many alter egos: Taco Bella and Trap Lavigne, to name a few. The 21-year-old’s unique sound is described in an article with The Fader***** as “her personal brand of bubbly, upbeat rap.” Rico establishes a youthful presence in her music with breakout TV-titled tracks like “iCarly”on her second mixtape, The Rico Story, and “Hey Arnold” on her third mixtape, Sugar Trap, both released in 2016. Since then, she has released Tales of Tacobella, Sugar Trap 2 and most recently, Nasty.

            The fun and carefree theme in her music doesn’t mean she’ll take anyone’s crap, though. Maria has been Rico Nasty ever since a boy at her school hurled the name as an attempted insult at her, referring to her Puerto Rico necklace and her supposedly bad odor. She claimed the name with pride, a testimony to the don’t-f*ck-with-me attitude she presents in her songs and on Twitter, and has kept it ever since.


* hyperlink https://twitter.com/CupcakKe_rapper

** hyperlink https://www.instagram.com/cupcakkeafreakk/?hl=en

*** hyperlink https://i-d.vice.com/en_us/article/595ywk/cupcakke-is-the-sex-positive-feminist-rap-needs

**** hyperlink https://www.vibe.com/2018/07/saweetie-reebok-alter-the-icons-interview/

***** hyperlink https://www.complex.com/music/2018/08/rapper-saweetie-went-viral-and-is-still-winning-big

****** hyperlink http://www.thefader.com/2018/06/07/rico-nasty-cover-story-interview